Evening Concerts at the Smithsonian’s 43rd Annual Folklife Festival
The 43rd annual Folklife Festival will feature a series of evening concerts. All performances are free. The 10-day Festival, held outdoors on the National Mall between Seventh and 14th streets, takes place from Wednesday, June 24, through Sunday, June 28, and Wednesday, July 1, through Sunday, July 5. Festival hours are from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day, with special events extending into most evenings. The event is co-sponsored by the National Park Service.
“Giving Voice: The Power of Words in African American Culture”
On June 24 and July 1, “Circle of Love—A Storytelling Session” will bring professional and amateur storytellers together with Festival visitors to share and listen to stories. These sessions will begin at 5:30 p.m. in “The Oratorium,” the program’s main performance venue.
“Las Americas: Un mundo musical/The Americas: A Musical World”
On Sunday, June 28 the “¡Viva Columbia Costa a Costa!” concert will feature three groups from Colombia: Grupo Cimarrón, which performs “joropo” music heard in the plains region of the country; the marimba band, Las Cantadoras del Pacífico, from the country’s Pacific coast, which specializes in “currulao” marimba music; and Grupo Vallenato, which plays “vallento” music, a popular style of folk music from the country’s Caribbean coast. The concert will begin at 6 p.m. in the Folkways Salón.
On Thursday, July 2, the “Viajando por las Americas” concert will showcase the musical styles of three distinct groups. Performing will be Mariachi los Camperos de Nati Cano, a Los Angeles-based mariachi band directed by National Heritage Fellow, Nati Cano; Estrellas de Joropo Oriental, an all-star group of “joropo oriental” musicians from Venezuela; and Northern Virginia’s Chanchona los Hermanos Lovo, an El Salvadorian group that performs danceable “cumbias” and rancheras.” The concert will begin at 6 p.m. in the Folkways Salón.
“Wales Smithsonian Cymru”
On Wednesday, June 24, the “Welsh Harps, Fiddles and Flutes” concert will feature several renowned Welsh musicians. Performing will be harpists Robin Huw Bowen and Sîan James; fiddlers Iolo Jones, Catrin Ashton, Christine Cooper, Stephen Rees and Sille Ilves; and flutists and pipers Andy McLauchlin, Ceri Ashton and Ceri Rhys Matthews. The concert will take place on the Welsh Dragon stage at 6 p.m.
On Friday, June 26, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings will celebrate the release of its new CD “Blodeugerdd: Song of the Flowers.” The concert will feature performances by sisters Catrin and Ceri Ashton, who sing harmonies accompanied by the flute and fiddle; award-winning musician and storyteller Christine Cooper, who has traveled the world playing her fiddle; folk musician Linda Griffiths, who has released 12 albums; and Sille Ilves and Martin Leamon, who together form the group Sild.
A Welsh Dance Party will follow the CD launch. Joining the concert performers will be Ceri Rhys Matthews, an internationally acclaimed piper; and brothers Mark and Chris O’Conner, who will bring their instrumental talents to the stage. The concert will begin at 6 p.m. on the Welsh Dragon stage.
On Sunday, June 28, visitors will enjoy “An Evening of Welsh Song.” The concert will feature six singer-songwriters who draw inspiration from their culture and personal experiences. Performing will be Gareth Bonello, also known as “The Gentle Good,” whose music blends the old with the new; Gai Toms, who marries his green ideologies and rock background together into his lyrics; and poet and writer Gwyneth Glyn, who looks to her beloved Welsh landscape and heritage when creating her work. Joining them will be guitar player Frank Hennessy of the acoustic band The Hennessys and Linda Griffiths, who will be accompanied by her eldest daughter, Lisa Healy. The concert will begin at 6 p.m. on the Welsh Dragon stage.
On Thursday, July 2, the male voice choirs Only Men Aloud! and Parti Cut Lloi will perform on the Welsh Dragon stage, beginning at 6 p.m. Established in 2000, Only Men Aloud! is the 20-member ensemble that won the BBC show “Last Choir Standing.” Tim Rhys-Evans, the choir’s director, describes them as “a bunch of fun-loving guys who get a massive kick out of coming together and singing.” Parti Cut Lloi, a group of “lads” from the Banw Valley in Montgomeryshire, is known for its renditions of traditional Welsh music and Plygain carols.
Throughout the Festival, the “Rugby Club,” a Welsh pub, will feature a variety of impromptu performances by musicians, poets and storytellers from the Wales program. The pub will be open from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 24, 26, 27 and 28, and July 2 and 3.
Cuerdas Cruzando Continenetes (Strings Crossing Continents)
On Friday, July 3, the final concert of this year’s Festival will bring together a harpist from Wales and a group of string players from Colombia. Cathrin Finch, who has been described as “The Queen of Harps” will perform with Grupo Cimarrón, which performs “joropo” music heard in plains region of their country. The concert will begin at 6 p.m. in the Folkways Salón.
The Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert
This year’s Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert will take place Saturday, June 27, at 5:30 p.m. on the Welsh Dragon stage. This concert series, held each year during the Festival, pays tribute to the founding Festival director by honoring his colleagues, like-minded advocates and the tradition bearers they have supported. This year the concert series will honor Ella Jenkins, the first lady of children’s folksongs. Through her work creating songs for young people, Jenkins has been a part of children’s culture for more than 40 years. She has appeared with Barney and Mister Rogers and works to teach children about different cultures. In 2004, she received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Joining Ella Jenkins on stage will be Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer. The duo has released more than 40 albums including the 2004 Smithsonian Folkways recording “cELLAbration! A Tribute to Ella Jenkins.”
Can’t make it to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival this year? Visit Smithsonian Folkways Web site, www.folkways.si.edu, from anywhere in the world to watch Folklife Festival performances stream live from the National Mall. Smithsonian Folkways will webcast live concerts of music from the Festival programs as they are happening. Free music downloads and more information about the musical traditions represented this year also are available at the click of a button. Visit the Web site for a complete schedule.
About the Festival
The Folklife Festival, inaugurated in 1967, honors people from across the United States and around the world. With approximately 1 million visitors each year, the Festival unites presenters and performers in the nation’s capital to celebrate the diversity of cultural traditions. It is produced by the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The Festival’s Web site is http://www.festival.si.edu.
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